A New Beginning

I have never been one for resolutions.

I usually choose a theme word to sum up my coming year. Some years the word has been health, adventure, creativity or independence. The word is generally accompanied by a vague idea of how I will accomplish this intent. Perhaps I will eat more vegetables, take more trips, or decorate my space with more colours and textures. The path is never clear, but I choose my theme each year and put my best foot forward.

Today a brand new year calendar year is beginning.

By some accounts it is the year that was not meant to happen. By others, it is the dawning of a new age for humankind. The only thing that experts seem to agree on is that this year will bring a shift in consciousness. The great minds of our time predict all kinds of things for this next phase in our existence – and all roads lead to massive change and renewal.

We see this theme constantly in earth based spirituality, and it’s only right. A belief system that is based on cycles that revolve around constant renewal should naturally pattern itself similarly. There is a plethora of new beginnings in paganism. We see this in the turning of the wheel, the phases of the moon, the seasons and the path of the sun and moon across the sky.

If our spirituality has taught us anything, it has told us to be patient. We have witnessed periods of change, great and small. We know that these things take time. We celebrate these changes and have learned to treat each ending as a new beginning.

With the recent publicity surrounding the end of the Mayan calendar there has been a lot of hype, mass hysteria even. For months we have been told that something is coming. Predictions ranged from natural disasters to global mass destruction in the form of an apocalypse.

I remember the year 2000 – yet another date associated, at least in some minds, with disaster and monumental change. It was preceded by weeks of media coverage and dire predictions about global catastrophe. The computers will all crash, they told us, there will be chaos and the world will be plunged into darkness.

Now here we stand, on the very edge of 2013.

There was no great explosion. We are all still here, and life has continued. This seems to be the most constant part of our faith. Life does go on, no matter what happens. The sun will rise, whether we are here to appreciate it or not, and it will make its way across the sky.

I propose that this year, our theme is a new beginning.

Republished with permission. Originally appeared on Treewise

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One Critter Is Eating Well

 

The storm appears to have subsided for now. It’s still snowing, but not as heavily as it was. Cars are moving and driveways are getting plowed out.

This clever little red squirrel knows where to find food. After fighting off a bossy blue jay and some chattering chickadees, he moved into the bird feeder and spent most of his morning there.

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Digging himself a tunnel through the snow, he has all the food he could want and a place to get out of the wind.

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“If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.” ~ George Eliot

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“Living is no laughing matter: you must live with great seriousness like a squirrel for example – I mean without looking for something beyond and above living, I mean living must be your whole occupation.” ~ Nazim Hikmet

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Here Comes The Sun

I love midwinter. I love the themes of new beginnings, renewal and rebirth. As the snow begins to fall, I resign myself to arm chair adventures and internet gardening until spring returns and the earth is once again fertile.

The winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night. After the solstice, which typically falls on or around the 21st of December each year, the cycle reverses and the day once again grows long. It is the point when the year is reborn and daylight hours begin to increase. We may have several cold months before spring arrives, but already the light is drawing nearer.

Photo credit Mr. Objective | Creative Commons Attribution License

Photo credit Mr. Objective | Creative Commons Attribution License

The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southern decline. This is when the North Pole is tilted furthest from the sun. The earth’s axis to the sun changes throughout the seasons. This is why the sun appears in different places on the horizon through the year. It also affects the intensity and duration of the sunlight we receive.

Monuments like Stonehenge in Britain and Newgrange in Ireland were aligned so that the primary axes pointed to the winter solstice sunrise (in the case of Newgrange) and the solstice sunset (in the case of Stonehenge).

The earliest sunset actually happens before the solstice. True solar noon happens as much as ten minutes before noon on our clocks. Due to the tilt earth’s axis and our planets “egg shaped” orbit of the sun, solar noon and clock noon don’t always match. By the time the solstice arrives, solar noon is much closer to the noon on our clocks. By this time, solar noon is happening almost ten minutes later than it did earlier in the month, making sunrise and sunset happen ten minutes later as well.

In the mid-northern regions of the globe, the earliest sunset occurs sometime around the middle of December, the solstice itself around the 20th-23rd of December and the latest sunrise happens in early January.

The solstice occurs tomorrow, and Christmas will be just after it. It is a beautiful time to go for a drive and look at decorations and lights. In spite of the increasing darkness, everything is covered with a brilliant layer of snow. No night is really dark in winter.

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Putting the Gardens to Bed

Fall seems to have come and gone before I could really wrap my mind around it. As is usually the case, harvesting lasts until just about the end of October, and then it is time to put the gardens to bed, move the hardier crops to  sheltered cold frames and make a lot… A LOT.. of spaghetti sauce.

The gardens did well through all of September. By the time the first snow fell on October fourteenth, the Swiss chard was the only thing still growing. I managed to use everything that came from my gardens this year. Not much made it to the freezer at all. This means more gardens will be built for next year. From halloween onwards it is time to move indoors, await the seed catalogues that should be turning up any day. It’s time to curl up with a good book, surf the web, play video games or  Cheekybingo and experiment with all kinds of herbal teas.

“Every life needs a little space. It leaves room for good things to enter it.” ~ Sarah Addison Allen, The Peach Keeper

Putting the gardens to bed is the process of cleaning them out and topping up soil where needed. It’s a good time to dig out the roots of any weeds that may have popped up. Rhubarb and strawberries and other perennials will benefit from mulching or covering if you are so inclined. Mine are in perfect little microclimates that protect them from cold and snow. The composter is getting fat on trimmings and leaves.  Now the days are chilly and the nights are even colder. We are well into bonfire season.

It surprises me that Guy Fawkes, or Bonfire Night is not celebrated in New Brunswick. It’s one of the things I miss about Newfoundland. I miss gigantic community bonfires with the fire department managing things and the whole town standing around chatting and drinking hot chocolate cut with too much water, or something else.

“All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles and ghosts of men, and spirits behind those birds of flame. I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes, I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through.” ~ Ada Limon

When the air turns cold and hard frost finishes the rest of the garden off, my focus shifts to inside tasks. It’s the time for getting ready for winter, decorating for Halloween and eventually Yule. I no longer wake up wanting to go outside and putter. My mornings are filled with warm slippers, hot coffee, procrastinating under the blankets and this year, oddly, pinterest.

Fall is the time of pumpkin spiced everything, and homemade soup. It is the time for cayenne and cinnamon, for good books, and epic movies. There is no time quite like fall for cleaning out and organizing cook books, closets, drawers and all the myriad crafts and projects I began with good intentions and abandoned for shinier things the year before.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Winter is arriving any day now. The first snow was not enough to cover the ground and no snow has managed to stay yet. I am looking forward to mild nights with fat snowflakes falling in the moonlight and digging Trixhe out of snow that is deeper than she is tall.

In the town of The Pas, Manitoba
It snows on the first of Octoba
From then, for six months,
It thaws only once
And never when I am quite soba.
~Author unknown

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Garden Updates

 

July just flew! What a busy time, and the garden has grown up and spilled over the sides. I’ve been out picking beans and peas and swiss chard and lettuce at least every couple of days.

Butternut squash is climbing up the net, and I think I may have planted more than I need, but I hated to pull any out.

One of my gardens practically exploded in a day and a half after a big rain.

Beans are climbing up the trellis and anything else they can reach.

Purple beans are my favorite thing to grow. I think I will plant twice as many next year.

The peas also did very well this year, and there are dozens of tomatoes loving this heat.

The swiss chard is about the only thing that was touched by pests really, other than the odd nibble on some lettuce.

I have not has as much time as I would have liked to spend in the garden but what minutes I could spare have been fantastic.

I will be sad to see fall come!

 

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